Determined not to give in, I swiped furiously through my Facebook profile, going back years.
I was searching virtually every life moment I’d ever captured on my phone.
My painstaking search had paid off. Finally, I’d unearthed a couple of seconds of my mum, Leslie Ann’s voice, wishing me a happy 24th birthday.
‘Happy birthday girl!’ she trilled.
It was just a snippet – but it was enough to completely capture her cheerful demeanour.
God, how I’d loved her…
She was the best person in my life, the most selfless mum in the world.
When she’d died so unexpectedly after having a sudden heart attack in December 2015, aged 59, I was totally devastated.
She’d exchanged texts with me just before it happened, telling me she was stressed about money as she’d had to take time off from her job in a restaurant after an accident. I’d reassured her it wasn’t the end of the world and that everything would work out.
Then I got a call from my aunt, who lived with Mum at the time, saying she’d found her, collapsed and unresponsive.
I didn’t understand how this could have happened.
We’d only just spoken.
At the hospital, I found Mum on life support.
‘Come on Mum, wake up,’ I’d pleaded.
But there was nothing more the doctors could do.
‘I love you so much,’ I said.
Afterwards, I felt broken.
I had loads of photos of Mum, but what I really fretted about was forgetting the sound of her voice.
A mum myself to Caden, 11, Jaxon, nine, Cali, eight, and Madilynn, three, it also seemed such a shame that my kids would grow up without having their wonderful grandmother to guide them.
Married to Shane, 30, a tattoo artist, I had some inkings done in Mum’s memory. Going for a clock displaying the exact time of Mum’s death on my neck, a rose commemorating her love of gardening, and some of her handwriting on my hand, I was delighted with my gallery of body art in her honour.
Every time I looked at my tattoos, I thought of Mum.
Then one day, Shane, who adored my mum, was looking on the computer for new design ideas.
‘Hey, look at this, it’s amazing,’ he yelled, excitedly, calling me over.
I couldn’t believe what he was showing me. Someone had found a way of making tattoos with sound!
Sound clips were converted into printed images, which could then be played from people’s skin, using an app called Skin Motion.
‘That’s incredible,’ I enthused. ‘Maybe I could find a clip of Mum’s voice and you could do one for me.’
So, Shane registered to become a certified artist, meaning he had the right to produce the astonishing talking tattoos.
Soon after, he created his first soundwave inking and
I was so impressed, I was determined to get one done for myself.
My obvious choice was to have my beloved Mum’s voice brought back to life.
First things first, I had to find a video clip of her speaking.
That’s when I found her birthday wishes on Facebook.
‘This is the one!’ I screamed, hardly able to contain my excitement.
Chuffed to bits, I couldn’t wait for Shane to work his magic!
‘Are we going to hear Grandma again soon?’ asked my eldest Caden, who could still remember her well.
‘You sure are, honey. Exciting, isn’t it?’ I grinned.
Sitting as still as a rock for about 45 minutes, I waited for Shane to complete the extra special tatt, etched onto the skin on the inside of my left ankle.
Artistically, I had far more attractive tattoos, but that wasn’t the point.
Once it was completed, I nervously took a photo of it and uploaded it to the Skin Motion app on my phone.
Then, after paying them $40, I waited for them to activate it.
For the next 24 hours, I was on tenterhooks.
Finally, getting up early before work, I saw that the activation was complete. At last, I was ready to play it.
Running the phone over my tattoo, my heart was in my mouth.
But, as promised, my soundwave inking sprang to life.
‘Happy birthday girl!’ came Mum’s inimitable voice.
It was as clear as if she was standing behind me.
Tears spattered my cheeks, as the emotion of it tugged on my heart strings.
‘It’s so special – particularly because it was you who did this for me,’ I told my husband. ‘It’s like a gift from you and Mum.’
Now, I play my tattoo a couple of times a day.
I often play it to my kids too, who love listening to their grandma’s voice.
Soundwave tattoos are so cool, I’d definitely recommend them.
There are so many things you can do with them.
You could have your favourite jingle, or something that makes you laugh – even your dog barking!
But, for me, losing my mum so young, I was really concerned I’d forget what she sounded like.
Now, every time I play my tattoo, it’s as if she’s with me.